Donating Democracy: Measuring the Effectiveness of Foreign Aid in Central Asia Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_projects/0g354g80g

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  • The promotion of democracy abroad has become a critical national security objective for the United States. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, newly independent states have received millions in aid to facilitate their transition to democracy. A significant portion of this funding has been administered by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Democracy and Governance program. The program includes support for civil society, a sphere of the polity in which citizens form autonomous associations. Although civil society encompasses many different types of organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) form a significant portion of civil society. In addition, they frequently act as intermediaries between donors and governments, making them first in line to receive aid and primarily responsible for its distribution. Thus, learning about what makes NGOs sustainable can provide insight into the question of how to promote democracy abroad. This essay uses regression analysis to examine the relationship between democracy assistance from USAID and NGO sustainability in twenty-five post-communist countries, with a special focus on the struggling region of Central Asia. The results indicate that democracy assistance has no statistically significant effect on NGO sustainability overall, and that other factors are more important. However, the data also shows a small but significant impact on NGO sustainability in Central Asia. This suggests that aid is more effective in regions where it is needed most. Donors are urged to re-direct aid towards vulnerable nations while simultaneously supporting the other determinants of NGO sustainability.
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